More electric vehicles in the Commonwealth? A bill in the General Assembly is trying to make that happen

New River Valley News

BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — House Bill 1965, delivered by Del. Lamont Bagby, was submitted in mid-January. Its purpose is to make low and zero-emission vehicles more available for consumption in Virginia.

“The demand is here; the supply is not,” said Carol Davis, Manager of the Town of Blacksburg’s Office of Sustainability.

Shortly after the bill’s submission, a letter was presented to the General Assembly, signed by multiple municipal leaders across the Commonwealth, most notably Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith.

The letter signed by Virginia municipal leaders, including Blacksburg Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith

“I certainly get calls almost weekly from folks who are interest in expansion of public EV (electric vehicle) charging infrastructure,” Davis said. “That has definitely accelerated over the years.”

Davis says this bill would set a clean energy standard in Virginia, a prioritization of selling EVs to consumers.

According to Davis, right now, the Commonwealth is losing out to states like Maryland, where Virginians are driving to make purchases because the options are there and not here.

“Those states have said ‘this is where we want to head,’ so as manufacturers are rolling this out they’re prioritizing those sales to the dealerships in those states.”

More EVs would mean more electricity to power the grids, and there have been critics of EVs saying the electricity comes from burning coal and fossil fuels.

While this is currently true, the Virginia Clean Economy Act would bring that to a stop.

“Over time, the company will be relying less on fossil fuels and more on renewables, such as hydro, solar, and wind, as we work to comply with the Virginia Clean Economy Act,” said Teresa Hall with APCO. “Under the act, Appalachian Power in Virginia has committed to 100% carbon-free generation by 2021.”

Davis wants to assure consumers of vehicles with combustible engines that their access to vehicles that burn fossil fuels will not be affected if this law is passed.

“It actually just increases the choices of low and zero-emitting vehicles, and the reality is when the standards are adopted, you see a sharp uptick in people adopting or choosing to buy these vehicles,” Davis said.

HB1965 has passed the House and, most recently as of Feb. 11, passed unanimously in a special session of the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee.

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